Toto Wolff asserts that Lewis Hamilton's imminent departure has not impacted his own plans for the future at Mercedes.
Wolff recently inked a fresh three-year contract to extend his tenure as the team principal. However, little did he anticipate that Hamilton would reveal his intention to join rival team Ferrari over a coffee chat just a few weeks later.
Would Wolff have chosen differently regarding his future had he been aware that his prominent driver was set to leave at the conclusion of the upcoming season? The Austrian maintains a resolute response to that inquiry: "No."
"It wouldn't have changed that. I think whatever role in the team, or whatever title they give it, I'm going to be there in the future. So it was a no-brainer to continue in an executive role, you can call it CEO, managing director, chairman, or team principal," he said.
"The easiest way was to stick with what we have. It wouldn't have affected me, because I'm so proud of being part of this Mercedes Formula 1 team, that carries this huge legacy of the star and racing history, and we're going to write more history in the future, as the Mercedes Formula 1 team.
"And that is what I aim to do with everyone in the team, and with everybody in Stuttgart. And therefore as much as this journey is so special, we have 10 or 20 more years before I’m being overrun by a bus to have more success."
Wolff is not just the team principal at Mercedes; he possesses a one-third stake in the F1 team, granting him even more influence over its future. His co-owners, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the Daimler Group share equal ownership in the business.
The trio won't be hasty in deciding who will succeed Hamilton, but Wolff is optimistic that George Russell can assume a leadership role and guide the team into the future. He remarked, "Our main focus is on the 2024 season now. We have two excellent drivers, we have Lewis in his final year at Mercedes and George eager to get back in the car and perform.
"We need to put a car on the track that has more pace than last year's car and we know how difficult it will be to compete not only with Red Bull but also the others. Also, with all the Lewis discussion, one thing that has not been talked about enough is George - George has the potential to be the next lead driver in the team.
"He is of the generation of Lando [Norris] and [Charles] Leclerc and some of the others and I couldn't wish for a [better] new team leader for when Lewis leaves, no doubt about that. We have such a solid foundation and a quick and intelligent guy in the car - we just need to make the right choice for the second seat."